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Arizona Wildcats basketball: T.J. McConnell commits; who is going to go?

T.J. McConnell

T.J. McConnell reacts after Duquesne beat Penn State in December. He had eight assists in the game. Photo by Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

The Arizona Wildcats have picked up two basketball players in the past few days, stashing them away for the 2013-14 season.

Former Sabino forward Matt Korcheck, most recently of Cochise College, committed to coach Sean Miller with the understanding that he would like to redshirt next season in an effort to get stronger and adjusted to a high level of college basketball.

And on Tuesday morning, Duquesne transfer point guard T.J. McConnell committed to Arizona over Virginia. Like Miller, McConnell is a Pittsburgh kid; their prominent basketball families have known each other for many years.

When Duquesne played Arizona at McKale Center early last season, Miller said of McConnell: “I think he’s one of the best point guards in the country. He’s the consummate point guard.”

While Korcheck could play if needed next season, McConnell will have to sit under NCAA transfer rules.

What does this mean for the rest of the roster?

It means somebody has to go.

Here are Arizona’s scholarship players for the 2012-13 season:

–Seniors (3): F Solomon Hill, G/F Kevin Parrom, C Kyryl Natyazhko
–Juniors (3): PG Jordin Mayes, F Matt Korcheck, PG T.J. McConnell
–Sophomores (3): PG Josiah Turner, G Nick Johnson, F/C Angelo Chol
–Freshmen (4): F Brandon Ashley, F Grant Jerrett, C Kaleb Tarczewski, G Gabe York

That’s 13 — the NCAA limit. But the Wildcats can carry only 12 scholarship players next season, their final year under NCAA sanctions.

Who is going to go?

Is it Turner, who ended the season on indefinite suspension? Is it Mayes, who might never see a path toward being a starter at Arizona (especially if Turner stays for this season)? Is it Natyazhko, whose role disappeared last season after starting the first six games? It’s also certainly possible that multiple players could leave.

Even while he tries to redshirt, Korcheck (6-9, 220) figures to bring maturity to a young group of post players, which include three freshmen and a still-raw Chol. Both sides will benefit from the practice competition.

No doubt, McConnell is a big piece of Arizona’s future. The 6-1 point guard averaged 11.4 points, 5.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds for Duquesne last season. He shot 43.2 percent from 3-point range (38 of 88).

McConnell had nine points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals vs. Arizona on Nov. 9.

“I just like the way they play and I obviously love their coaching staff,” McConnell told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday. “I would love to play for a guy like Sean Miller. He’s one of the best coaches in the NCAA.”

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